Justice Kolawale Warns Police on Disobeying Court Orders

A Federal High Court in Abuja has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister ofJustice to warn the Inspector General of Police on the consequences of disbeying court orders.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, who expressed his worries, Thursday, said that police as an institution established by law must subject itself to obedience of law in the interest of the rule of law.
The Judge observation followed the failure of the police to appear before him in a case of enforcement of fundamental human rights instituted against the police and four others by the Incorporated Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
At the resumed hearing of the suit on Thursday, the IGP and the Nigerian Police Force who are the major defendants in the case were absent in court without any explanation.
The Attorney General of the Federation, the National Security Adviser, the Department of State Services and its Director-General, who are also defendants in the suit, were represented by Terhemba Agber.
Counsel to the Peace Corps and its National Commandant, Kanu Agabi (SAN), had urged Justice Kolawale for an order restraining the police from further taking steps against the plaintiffs.
Agabi, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had specifically pleaded with the Judge to order the police to vacate the corporate headquarters of the Peace Corps in Abuja, which has been under seige since February 28.
Agabi also pleaded for order of the court to seek the release of the vehicles and other properties carted away by the police when the office was raided.
But counsel to the Attorney General, Agber and three others urged the court to allow hearing of the parties in the matter before giving any order.
In his ruling, Justice Kolawale expressed displeasure over the absence of the police in court without justifiable reason.
The Judge said that the police who were the major party in the case ought to have realised that a case for the enforcement of fundamental human rights to freedom of Liberty ought to be treated with deserved urgency.
“It is an affront to the court for a party in a pending court action to take any further step in such a manner that may affect the foundation of the case.
“To take a further step in a pending court matter outside the court is nothing but self help and the consequence of such action is a contempt of proceedings.
“In a suit like this, especially in a matter of enforcement of fundamental rights to freedom or personal liberty, conduct of parties who have already joined issues must be carefully watched so as not to render the subject matter negative.”
He said that it would not be in the interest of justice for any of the parties in the matter to resort to self help or impose a fate accompli on the court, adding the parties who were already in court must not do anything to over reach the court.
Specifically, the Judge said that his ruling should be served on the police through the office of the AGF to enable the police realise the consequences of treating the court order with levity.
He therefore, ordered the AGF and three other defendants to file processes within five days to regularise their already filed procesess in response to the originating summons of the peace corps.
The case was adjourned to May 15 for hearing.

Author: News Editor

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